Hastings woman uses crochet at youth center
SHAY BURK, Hastings Tribune
Published 12:48 p.m., Saturday, October 20, 2012
HASTINGS, Neb. (AP) — Marnie Benson may not be a teacher in the traditional sense, but she's found that her current hobby, crochet, has translated well in her unique classroom setting.
Benson is a youth security supervisor at the Hastings Regional Center's Hastings Juvenile Chemical Dependency Program. She works with young men who have addictions to various drugs.
A few years ago Benson learned the basics of crochet from one of the residents. The night shift staff had taught the young man to crochet as a coping mechanism. The resident caught on so well that he was constantly bugging Benson about learning the craft, too.
Benson was leery about it because she had tried to learn before.
She comes from a family of crafty women, with one grandmother who knits and the other who crochets. "So I knew I could do it, but I just fidgeted around with it and never did well," Benson said.
But she decided to work out a deal with the young man: If he demonstrated positive behaviors for a week and kept it up, she would sit down with him for an hour and learn crochet.
They didn't make it through the hour, but it didn't matter. Benson was bitten by the crochet bug. She went home after her shift and watched numerous online tutorials to learn the art of crochet.
She started out making scarves, hats and baby blankets. Soon she was making hats for her co-workers and found that many of them were interested in her creations.
"I put some things on Facebook and people liked it and wanted to buy one, so then I would post something and people would order them," Benson said.
After a few trials and tribulations, Benson realized hats were the most sellable thing to make.
"At the start, I just wanted to earn enough to pay for expensive yarn," she said. "That was my plan in the beginning."
Soon Benson was selling her beanie hats along with hats with monkey and owl faces online through her Etsy and Facebook pages with the business name Strictly Yarn.
Crochet makes sense for Benson. She admits that she's always had a love for art and would get an art degree if she could do it all over again.
"Before crochet, I was constantly drawing and doing art things with Sharpies," she said. "Before that I was drawing and before that I was painting, so it's like drawing with yarn, sort of, for me."
Benson views crochet as just another personal expression through art. At the regional center, Benson works with young men struggling with behavioral problems, addictions or other issues.
In the past, she would put a pencil, a Sharpie or a paintbrush in their hands to let them express themselves through art. Now Benson said she loves to teach them how to crochet.
She said there are many benefits for the young men.
"It's a really great coping skill when they're having cravings or a bad day or they're dealing with anger," she said. "I find that angry kids are the ones that just really connect with crochet."
Benson said the young men with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder really benefit from crochet because it gives them something to do with their hands while they are having a conversation, watching television or just having some quiet time.
"There's a rhythm to it," she said. "I think it's really soothing for them."
Information from: Hastings Tribune, http://www.hastingstribune.com